May sales bounce back — big time!

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After a slight softening in April, auto sales in Canada bounced back big-time in May.

Sales of 216,861 new cars, trucks and utility vehicles, up 11.2% from last May, were the greatest for any month ever, only the second time in history that they’ve topped 200,000. May’s sales were 14.2% ahead of the five-year average for the month, according to David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada. “Despite assertions to the contrary by many that auto sales have peaked, that is clearly not the case,” he said.

While not the highest ever, the SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate of Sale) for May was in the range of 2.06 million, according to Dennis DesRosiers, of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAC). That’s the highest it’s been so far this year and the fifth month in a row that it’s been in or above the 2-million range — an exceptional period of market stability.

Cumulative sales of 835,852 vehicles year-to-date are the highest ever for the period, 4.7% ahead of last year’s record pace. All of which bodes well for continued strength in the market, despite fears that it has peaked.

Ford takes control

After two months with General Motors at the top of the sales charts, Ford dominated May sales with 34.475 vehicles sold — up 17.4% from a year ago. That performance solidified Ford’s hold on the number-one spot year-to-date with 127,530 sales.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) climbed back into second place for the month with 33,186 sales, up 4.6% from last May.

GM made the biggest improvement over last year (+35.8%) but still ranked third with 31,149 units sold.

Year-to-date, the rankings are the same but GM has made the greatest improvement with sales up 18.4%, compared to 5.3% for Ford and 0.0% for FCA. Only about 1,300 vehicles now separate FCA and GM in the race for second place, while Ford now holds a lead of almost 3,000 units.

In terms of market share, Ford now holds 15.3% (+0.1%), followed by FCA at 14.9% (-0.7%) and GM at 14.8% (+1.8%).

Most brands make gains

With sales up by 7.4% in May, Toyota remains entrenched in fourth place, although sales are down 2.0% YTD. The Japanese leader has given up seven-tenths of a point of market share, falling to 9.7%. Conversely, Honda, in fifth place, has picked up six-tenths of share (8.7%) with sales up 11.6% for the month and 11.8% year-to-date.

Hyundai (-0.2%) has reasserted its hold on sixth place, ahead of Nissan (+5.4%). Not just for the month but year-to-date.

Kia (+6.3%) and Mazda (+7.9%) continue in a tight fight for eighth, with the Kia brand ahead for the month — its Japanese counterpart holds the spot YTD.

Volkswagen (-9.9%) held off Subaru (+17.6%) for the tenth spot, even though the Japanese brand achieved it best sales month ever. Mercedes-Benz (0.0%) was relegated to 12th, although the company is still a clear first among luxury brands.

Winners and losers

In percentage terms, the big gainers in May, once again, were Jaguar (+166.2%) and Maserati (+77.9%). They were followed by GM (+35.8%) Subaru (+17.6%), Ford (+17.4%) and Audi (+16.6%).

The only losers on the month, compared to last May, were Volkswagen (-9.9%), BMW (-5.9%) and Land Rover (-0.8%).

As is now the norm, truck sales, including SUVs, led the way. They were up 16.3% from 2016, aided in part by strong fleet sales.

But even passenger car sales were up by 2.9% in May.

Trucks accounted for 67.3 % of the market year-to-date, compared to 32.7% for passenger cars.

Ford’s F-Series continued to be the best-selling truck and the best-selling vehicle overall, while the Honda Civic was the best-selling passenger car.

[NOTE: Data quoted in this report were sourced from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, Global Automakers of Canada and individual automakers.]

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